Calcium metabolism, calcium supplementation and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy

H. J. van den Elzen, J. W. Wladimiroff, T. E.Cohen Overbeek, C. D. Morris, D. E. Grobbee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In recent years growing attention has been directed towards the possible role of calcium in the development of pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia. Several studies describe calcium metabolism in normal and hypertensive pregnancy, but so far, they have shown discrepant and inconsistent results. Intracellular free calcium, which plays an important role in vascular smooth muscle contraction, has been claimed as a pathogenic factor in hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Although there is discordance in the data, a possible role of intracellular calcium in the development of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy cannot be excluded. Observational studies in pregnant women suggest an inverse association between calcium intake and the incidence of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy. Despite large methodological differences, the results from the calcium supplementation trials support this finding. Although it is rather difficult to isolate the effect of calcium intake from the intake of other mineral elements, results from calcium supplementation trials are supportive for calcium being the most important. Proposed mechanisms by which calcium supplementation may lower blood pressure involve changes in parathyroid hormone (PTH) level, the renin-angiotensin system and calcium as a modifier of vascular agent regulation, but none of these have yet been elucidated. At present, circumstantial evidence suggest a positive role for calcium in the prevention of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, but definite evidence is lacking and further research is warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-16
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1995


  • Calcium supplementation
  • Extracellular calcium metabolism
  • Hypertensive disorders
  • Intracellular calcium
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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